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Deciphering Russia's Syria Strategy

By Ilan Berman, USA Today - September 29, 2015

What is the Russian government up to in Syria? After weeks of agitating for the creation of an international "united front” to confront the Islamic State terrorist group (and rehabilitate its longtime ally in Damascus in the process), the Kremlin has taken matters into its own hands.

Beginning in early September, the Russian government commenced what amounts to a major intervention in the Syrian civil war. Over the past month, it has dispatched thousands of troops, established a new air base in the port city of Latakia and deployed heavy war materiel (including advanced T-90 tanks, howitzers and a contingent of fighter aircraft) to the Syrian battlefield. In the process, Russia has succeeded in dramatically altering the contours of the four-and-a-half-year-old conflict.

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